Jason Sharp – The Turning Centre Of A Still World

Montréal saxophonist and electroacoustic composer Jason Sharp presents his third album on Constellation, The Turning Centre Of A Still World. Ahead of street date this Friday, Jason is presenting a full visual album, made by Montréal-based experimental filmmaker Guillaume Vallée. Ornately abstract textural imagery forged from hand-processed and hand-painted Super8 film painstakingly edited by Vallée (as previewed in 2 previously released videos for album tracks “Everything Is Waiting For You” and “Blossoming Rest”) allows Sharp’s masterful and mesmerizing new music to occupy center stage while unfolding it into a sublime optical dimension. Vallée’s films will also be projected in upcoming live concerts via software that interacts with Sharp’s performance, altering and recombining the footage differently every time.

“This collaboration with Jason was such an amazing and smooth audiovisual adventure. At the beginning, I was planning to work in a different way than I usually do, with a more minimal approach to the visual. But the more I listened to Jason’s album, the more it brought me elsewhere. I wanted to shoot everything on Super8 and hand-process the whole thing, to grasp the organicism and physicality of the music. Working with the film emulsion made sense to me, with hand-painting and chemical treatment, to get closer to my material and an intuitive symbiosis with the music. I used a film/video hybrid processes, strongly inspired by the work of Al Razutis, a uniquely amazing multimedia artist and pioneer of the film/video hybrid process in the 70s (actually based in British Columbia). I was very happy that Jason was receptive to my process and I did the best I could to visually translate the complexity and beauty of this album.” – Guillaume Vallée

“Guillaume’s interpretation of my music with moving images has been a refreshing coda to an extremely detailed, intensive composition and recording process. His Super8 film treatments inscribe a similar detail and intensity, with vitality and texture that channels the music of The Turning Centre Of A Still World into evocatively abstract visual movements. I’m beyond delighted with the resulting synthesis of our respective mediums and processes, and can’t wait to perform the music live while flooded with this visual work.” – Jason Sharp

The Deluxe 180gLP edition includes 4 double-sided 12″x12″ lithographs printed on uncoated 100lb archival text pape featuring 8 film stills by another longtime Sharp collaborator: the award-winning experimental filmmaker Daïchi Saïto (for whom Jason has scored two films). Each image inspired and corresponds to the album’s 8 tracks.

The Turning Centre Of A Still World is Sharp’s first purely solo record and his most lucid, poignant, integral work to date. Following two acclaimed albums composed around particular collaborators and guest players, Sharp conceived his third as an interplay strictly bounded by his own body, his acoustic instrument, and his evolving bespoke electronic synthesis system.

Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals, and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers – Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia on The Turning Centre Of A Still World. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk.

The Turning Centre Of A Still World is a singular sonic exploration of human-machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback. These immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic compositions would sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul.

This music was developed and composed with the use of a customized electroacoustic interface in which I wear a heart monitor that sends signal to an array of modular synthesizers. All electronic rhythmic elements stem from my real-time human pulse, establishing a fluctuating centre that continually channels and responds to the physicality of the performance. The entire compositional process is given essential shape and colour through biofeedback; the electronics are humanized. The music is orchestrated with my bass and baritone saxophone playing, along with other methods of intentional breathing and heart-rate manipulation, to influence and interact with my electronic/synthetic materials to fulfill the arc of each composition.

In live performance, tempos and other signal-processed components of the music are different each time, directly conditioned by my visceral and emotional presence. My physicality is inherently patched into all aspects of these electroacoustic séances: concentration, vulnerability, emotion, meditation – all are at work in the performance of the music, including at a formal/structural level through biofeedback of constituent sonic materials. As synthesized sound elements shift according to fluctuations in the signal path sourced from my pulse, the performance accommodates and manipulates these responsive variables, continually re-synthesizing the synthesis. These works are always and fundamentally unique to each performed instantiation, in a connective way that encompasses audience, machine and me. – Jason Sharp, Montréal, May 2021


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